COLFAX — Runners know that everything elevates in October. The miles turn up, as does the speed during training. That translates to competition kicking up.
On the bright side, the one factor going down is the temperature. Cloud cover kept it in the 50s on Friday, setting up most of the WIAC and a few others for a fast Blugold Invite at Whitetail Golf Course in Colfax.
That was especially the case for the Blugold women, who took home a team title, and UW-Stout men's top pair.
The men’s race kicked off the action, and 5,000 meters through it was a steady three-man pack of Matthew Wilkinson of Carleton, David Fassbender of UW-Whitewater and Michael Friedman from UW-Stout. Wilkison and Fassbender began to create some separation as the final 3,000 meters went on, but that was more about their talent than Friedman falling off.
“Those two guys are pretty elite. Those are national qualifiers, All-Americans," UW-Stout head coach Matt Schauf said. "He’s never quite done that yet.”
Friedman, who was ninth at last year’s WIAC conference meet, was facing stiff competition from teammate Spencer Schultz. Schultz was in 10th at the 5k mark and moved up six spots.
“Just decided to have an other worldly kick,” Schultz said. “That came out of nowhere."
Schultz and Friedman landed at fourth and sixth, respectively, but having the number 4 and 5 runners outside the top 50 put them fourth among the WIAC teams.
”It always come down to the fifth (runner)," Schauf said. ”And right now that’s where we gotta find a bit more.”
In the mix for the top places with Schultz and Friedman was UW-Eau Claire’s Connor Dolan. Dolan, in his first race since winning the St. Olaf Invitational, settled in quickly.
“The first 2k we did a good job of being relaxed,” Dolan said of the pack he was running with.
Where things got closer was in the final 1,000 meters. Having those Blue Devils in his sights pushed Dolan.
“It’s definitely helpful having those Stout guys, knowing they're in my conference," Dolan said.
That push aided him going up the last uphill, which sets up the downhill finish that carries a runner into the chute. He finished in fifth place, just over a second behind Schultz and ahead of Friedman.
“I know once I get to the top I can shift gears going downhill getting into my kick," Dolan said.
Blugolds' Lexi Tremble finished second behind St. Olaf’s Bryony Hawgood and 20 seconds ahead of the second fastest WIAC runner, teammate Lizzy Ciesewski, in the women's competition.
Lakehead University’s Rebekkah Pyle and Morgan Marek, running attached, where able to keep pace with the Blugold senior for the first 3k, but she separated in the second half.
“She had an incredible summer of training and it’s showing now,” Blugolds head coach Dan Schwamberger said.
The blue and yellow wave continued to file in with six more runners finishing in the next minute.
“Our pack ran so smart,” Schwamberger said. “The last third they moved up.”
That wave brought the Blugolds seventh runner in before the second-place team Minnesota brought in their fifth runner. That helped UWEC earn a 49-61 edge over Minnesota, but more importantly kept the nearest WIAC school more than 100 points away.
“This was our first race where we were ready to show off our training,” Tremble said of their first race against conference opposition.
The men's and women’s team are off until the 19th, when they run at the UW-Oshkosh Invite.